SMUIN CHRISTMAS BALLET in two performances at Sunset Center (above photo by Keith Sutter). WHITE ALBUM ENSEMBLE celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Abbey Road, at the Rio in Santa Cruz. FIRST NIGHT MONTEREY embraces the New Year with performance events all over Downtown Monterey. THE CHERRY TRIO plays baroque music on New Year’s Day at Carmel’s Cherry Center. FOR LINKS to these and other live performance events click on our CALENDAR
HAS FOREST THEATER GUILD BEEN GIVEN NOTICE?
CARMEL’S OUTDOOR FOREST THEATER, founded 109 years ago, has been the performance home of the Forest Theater Guild for the last 70 years, during which time it has staged annual summer productions funded largely by receipts from its summertime film screenings there. (Most recent, Hello, Dolly! was a popular success this year; Into the Woods drew large crowds in 2018.) Today, the Forest Theater is managed by the Sunset Cultural Center (SCC), Carmel-by-the Sea’s best-known performance facility. SCC recently notified the Guild that its film screenings may continue but, implicitly, with no dates offered for live performance productions. This leaves the Guild in a quandary: without dates-certain it cannot timely negotiate productions that require performance rights and royalties, auditions, fundraising, tech and set crew. Guild executive director Yvonne Hildebrand-Bowen told us, “To be offered films on Wednesdays and Thursdays with no live productions doesn’t make much sense to a community theater group.” After meetings with the City and SCC, the Guild now finds itself in limbo while it waits for SCC’s decision on the Guild’s future use of Forest Theater for live productions. Hildebrand-Bowen said, “I feel that the Board is hoping for the best and trying to remain optimistic.” There is more to this story. Stay tuned.
‘NO CRIB FOR A BED’
GIAN CARLO MENOTTI’S Amahl and the Night Visitors revived for our times—in soup kitchens that serve the homeless—maybe more relevant than ever. Click HERE
DRUIDS RISE UP AGAINST ROMANS
SPEAKING OF SUCH ANIMALS, it’s the Grange Park Opera’s production of Bellini’s Norma. Make sure the sound is on and click for full screen. Click HERE
HANDEL’S ACCOUNT AT BANK OF ENGLAND
MESSIAH COMPOSER was a savvy entrepreneur who deposited his receipts every night after performances. Click HERE
LIGHTSPEED on a simple recorder, at a music festival in Rheinfelden, Switzerland.
POLISH CHRISTMAS: ENGLISH FOR BEGINNERS
THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH
YOUNG AMERICAN CHRISTOPHER HOULIHAN—he’s 32—offers an exceptional new introduction to JS Bach’s organ music, both familiar and rare. Missing is the over-exposed Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, but included are the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C Major and the Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, the latter using the passacaglia repeating bass line that supports variations as the fugue subject, a good illustration of Bach’s economy of means. Houlihan has arranged the “Italian” Concerto from the familiar version on harpsichord (and sometimes piano), though the organ tones overwhelm the intimate original. The opening movement of the Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor offers a hair-raising display so gnarly that you’d think it dates from the early 20th century, yet it also quiets down to pianissimo, demonstrating Houlihan’s wide range of dynamic contrasts. The recording was made at Trinity College in Hartford on the Austin Organ built there in 1972; an eclectic “American-classic” style electro-pneumatic with a wider range of dynamic and interpretive possibilities than a typical tracker of Bach’s era. Two more works, a Prelude and Fugue in B Minor and a Trio Sonata in G Major complete this recent Azica disc. Recording organ music is notoriously difficult when transparency is the desired goal; the quieter passages in this case fare best.
NEW ORCHESTRAL HITS 4 KIDS is a somewhat misleading title. Recorded in Oslo by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, with the Norwegian Girls Choir, it consists of 12 songs by Martin Hagfors and Erik Johannessen, sung in English, to witty lyrics in pop-style. The orchestral music, by contrast, is really quite sophisticated and suitable for adult listening, à la bi-generational. Song titles include “Sleep Like A Rock,” “Wet Socks,” “The Story Of The Girl On The Moon,” “Planet Of The Rats” “The Woods At Night” and, most urgently, “The P Dance.” Colorful art apparently by kids adorns the booklet insert along with some of the song lyrics. It’s a charming and surprising release on the Naxos label. SM
ADAM SANDLER’S HANUKKAH SONG
“GLORIA” Madregalia sings Renaissance Christmas music. THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE, ABRIDGED, a Paraphrase Production in Monterey. BENNY GREEN TRIO at Kuumbwa.
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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor